3 Trooper Tips for motorcycle safety

Motorcycle safety
PHOTO COURTESY COLORADO STATE PATROL. The official patch of the Colorado State Patrol. Motorcycle safety

Motorcycle safety

By Trooper Gary Cutler

According to the meteorologists it is now officially summer.  So that means there will be a lot more motorcycles on our roadways.  So that is this month’s topic.

I was a motor officer for the State Patrol for 11 years, so I have a few insights when dealing with this topic.  No matter what angle or side you pick on the subject, it always comes down to one important item: safety for everyone involved is paramount.

When it comes to motorcycles, they are smaller and quicker than other vehicles and have ways of hiding in the blind spots of drivers.  When driving, do a double look of your blind spots to make sure a motorcycle has not slipped into that hidden area. Motorcycles riders make sure you aren’t hanging out in the blind spot.  Remember if you can’t see them, they can’t see you.

At intersections it’s important for riders to make sure they have eye contact with other motorists so you know they are aware you are there.  This is especially true when making left turns.

Drivers make sure you maintain an adequate following distance behind motorcycles.  Rear-ending a motorcycle can be deadly to the rider. Motorcycles are legally entitled to their own lane of traffic.  In no situation are you allowed to drive or pass a motorcycle while in the same lane. The same goes for the motorcycle rider.  Just because you are smaller, does not mean you get to pass a car in the same lane.

From my experience of riding I know its fun to really come in fast and low on the lean when navigating tight curves, but it is dangerous.    If you’re in the curve and run across an animal or object in the roadway, odds are you are going to hit it or at least go down hard. Use caution when riding in the hills. One of the most common reasons for single motorcycle crashes that I investigated is going too fast around curves.

Here are 3 quick tips for motorcycle riders:

1.Follow traffic rules, this means go the speed limit, don’t pass on solid lines.

2. Ride defensively; limit lane changes just to get around traffic. Watch for oncoming cars and obstacles on the roadway.  Leave room for an escape route.

3. Keep your riding skills honed through education: Take advanced motorcycle riding courses.  It’s easy to get a motorcycle license, so learn the skills needed to stay safe.

Lastly, I personally recommend wearing a helmet.  I know Colorado does not have a mandatory helmet law, but all it takes is one mistake on your part or others that can be the difference between life and death.  Live to ride another day, wear a helmet, safety glasses, and leather gloves.

Remember that there is no such thing as a fender-bender for a motorcycle rider.  They are completely exposed.  

As always, safe travels!

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